At breakfast that morning, the lodge dining room was filled with families, many speaking with defined British accents and the children, all of them, incredibly well behaved. A little Asian boy with delicate features and bed-mussed hair eating pancakes at the next table made me smile as did a 10-year-old miss with the curly blonde hair eating with her giant of a father the table beyond that. From floor to ceiling, windows brought the surrounding landscape – mountains, snow, woods – right into the dining room. Our table was bathed in so much light that I could have used a pair of sunglasses, but it felt warm and welcoming after a brisk walk from our suite in the Sequoia building to the Lodge.
After breakfast, while Bill went for a heart-stimulating power-walk around the grounds, I wrote in my journal. Then I took my own more leisurely stroll, camera in hand, to capture the views from different points – a walk made merry by the song birds that filled the air with music and flitted through the trees or hopped onto the path before me. Despite the rapidly warming weather the snow was still deep around the lodge and I was surprised at how little run-off I saw; I could only surmise that the ground was so dry that it caught every drop of moisture it could.
Bill and I reconnected around 9:30, gathered our cameras and wallets, and set off to see the marvels still ahead of us along a section of the highway not nearly as precipitous as the drive up from the
A young woman on a small electric wheelchair, whizzed past us, intent on following the sun on the cinnamon bark of the Sequoias from tree to tree. Meanwhile her husband talked to a park employee who was emptying the bear-proof garbage receptacles placed generously at many of the pull-off along the trail. Which brings me to the subject of bears. Apparently there are lots of hungry black bears in the park. That morning we’d just missed seeing a mother with two cubs stroll through the Lodge parking lot.
The Nation’s Christmas Tree – photo by hubby Bill Christ
Bill and I stopped for a lunch of teriyaki chicken and tempura vegetables on yellow rice at the Kings Canyon Visitor Center. Unusual park fare don’t you think? Afterwards, a short drive up the road took us to the largest known grove of giant sequoias--Grants Grove. Several of the most massive trees grow here, including the General Grant (aka the Nation’s Christmas Tree), with a trunk measuring 40 feet in diameter! A series of trails, some still packed in snow lead us past these immense forest lords and into one of them -- a massive fallen sequoia that had once housed an ale house within its interior!
Beryl inside the entrance to the fallen Sequoia that once served as a bar. Photo by hubby Bill ChristWe left the grove, intending to drive to Kings Canyon Lodge but the drive was so sheer and convoluted and the mountain scenery so barren that a sign saying the road was closed several miles ahead encouraged us to turn around. The outlook at Junction View, the place where we did this turning, convinced us. It gave us a clear view of ongoing S curves snaking downwards into the canyon for what seemed an eternity.